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Trouble Trying To Change?
June 30, 2008


Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #108, June 30, 2008

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

Trouble Trying To Change?

Book Review: Living Your Unlived Life


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2008


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

If you have ever tried to change yourself, (e.g. drop a bad habit), you know how hard it can be. Modern brain science shows there is an easier way.

Robert Johnson has written a number of helpful books about living a fulfilling life. His latest is no exception, and is written especially for people at midlife.

There are about 740 words in this issue, which should take you about 1 1/2 minutes to read.



Trouble Trying To Change?

From time to time, almost all of us try to change ourselves. Maybe we want to drop a bad habit, or develop a new way of reacting in stressful situations, or change the way we do business.

Worse yet, maybe we are in a supervisory position at work, and have to try to get other people to change.

We all know what a challenge it is to 'try to change'.

Here's a tip from leading edge brain science: don't try to change. Create something new.

As we think our thoughts, and do our activities, our brains create neural pathways. As we repeat activities or thoughts, these pathways become more like neural highways. We begin to have habitual ways of reacting in certain situations (such as blowing up at the people we supervise when things go wrong at work, or 'yes butting' all the time when we are in a heated argument with our spouse).

It is extremely difficult to change these neural pathways, but it is not difficult to start new ones.

Here is a simple example: Long ago, I used to smoke regularly. I decided to quit, but didn't have any real success. I would be at a party, and someone would offer me a cigarette. I would say "I'm quitting", but eventually, I would decide I was not quitting just then, so would take the cigarette.

I was talking about this with a fellow one time, and he said, "You have it wrong in your mind. Instead of telling yourself your are quitting, which means every time you are offered a cigarette, you have a decision to make about whether to 'keep quitting', tell yourself 'I don't smoke'. That way, there is no decision to make when someone offers you a cigarette."

I tried it, and it worked. I had created a new 'non-smoker' neural pathway in my brain.

(I hasten to add that I still smoke cigars from time to time at men's conferences and while visiting my dad, but feel no urge to smoke regularly.)

The next time you are trying to change yourself, rather than wrestling with the old neural superhighway, head off through the bush and make a new one. It will be easier.

* An important part of creating a new neural pathway is having a clear goal in mind. You might find some help for that here:


Soccer sense: "We actually got the winning goal three minutes from the end but then they scored."


Book Review: Living Your Unlived Life by Robert Johnson and Jerry Ruhl

Robert Johnson is a Jungian analyst who has written a number of very popular books, including "She", "He" and "We", during the 1980s.

In Living Your Unlived Life, as in his other books, Johnson uses characters from mythology to talk about the inner struggles we all deal with. The characters in this book are Castor and Pollux, from ancient Greek mythology, who are both sons of Zeus, but one is mortal and the other immortal.

In the myth, the mortal one dies, and the immortal one is distraught, until after a few unsatisfactory solutions, Zeus finally turns them into twin stars, which show up in astrology as the twins: Gemini.

As a metaphorical story, the challenge at midlife is to somehow unite our earthly mortal sense of self, with our immortal aspect.

Johnson provides some useful exercises for this, with some advice on working with dreams. He also gives instruction in using 'active imagination' - a Jungian technique for consulting with the 'inner oracle', which dwells in our unconscious.

If you are in the midst of a midlife transition, this book could help you work your way throught it.


If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.


Unusual travel Web sites: - Steve Kropla's Help for Worldwide Travelers helps plan an international trip. It has a comprehensive listing of worldwide electrical and phone info. You can search for information like: international city codes, electric plug types, television standards, mobile phone guides and more.


High gasoline prices can chew a big hole in your wallet. I have been using MPG caps in both my vehicles for about a year, and am getting 10% better mileage in my half ton, and 15% better in my car. Get details of my six-month trial here: Gas Caps. You could save some money too.


I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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